Star Wars Battlefront II marks the second console entry in EA’s tenure with the Star Wars Games licence. It excels in some aspects, but is let down by complexity and a frustrating grind in both multiplayer and the single player campaign.
It’s Not a Story the Jedi Would Tell You
The story mode is a welcome addition following its absence in 2015’s Battlefront. Not only is the campaign official canon, but it also takes an interesting perspective on the Star Wars universe, following an elite imperial soldier (Iden Versio) in the events following Return of the Jedi. Filling in the 30 year gap between episodes VI and VII, Iden visits familiar locations and characters, as well as some new original planets. Overall, this campaign is the exhilarating and emotional Star Wars story fans have been waiting for in a game, and is only let down by occasional repetitive gameplay. Missions will often revolve around the same “escort” mechanics that make the otherwise enjoyable story a slog.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
One aspect in which 2015’s Battlefront excelled was its graphical fidelity. Battlefront II certainly lives up to that standard, running at a silky smooth 60FPS in single player modes on the standard PS4. A somewhat low resolution of 900p is un-noticeable in the stunning worlds DICE have created. Planets from the prequel and original trilogy look as good as, or better than, their film counterparts with the Frostbite engine. Indeed, Star Wars Battlefront II boasts some of the best visuals the PS4 has to offer. Coupled with absolutely stellar sound design and John Williams’ original score, the sense of immersion that comes with being in the midst of a Star Wars battle is nothing short of astonishing.
A Rebellion Built on Hope
Multiplayer is undoubtedly the main draw of Battlefront II. Having taken centre stage in 2015’s iteration, the popular mode returns with two steps forward and one step back. Fortunately, there is far more variety in the range of game modes available this time around. 2015’s Battlefront launched with just four large online maps, but Battlefront II features more than double that. The addition of prequel and sequel era maps has certainly made this mode feel more diverse than its predecessor. Hero powerups have also been overhauled. Battlefront II ditches the pseudo-random rewards from 2015’s iteration, instead opting for a skill based system where the player can fairly earn their chance to play as a hero. Other notable improvements can be found in the Starfighter Assault mode, where vehicle controls have been made more precise. The feeling of piloting an X-wing is immensely rewarding.
Don’t Get Cocky…
The online mode’s only real flaw appears in its progression mechanics. 2015’s Battlefront featured a straightforward levelling system, but this iteration is mired in endless counters, unclear customization menus and frustratingly randomized upgrades. The only way to upgrade gear is to spend credits on “crates” and acquire new parts. At launch, these crates were purchasable with real world money, sparking tremendous backlash among players. At the time of writing, this ability has been turned off indefinitely. In addition, iconic heroes like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (available from the get-go in 2015’s Battlefront) are locked behind asinine levels of player investment. The end result is that Battlefront’s once rewarding progression system has become a tedious grind.
How Do We Blow it Up? There’s Always a Way to Do That
Offline modes are, remarkably, a centrepiece of Battlefront II. Players can choose to fight alone in arcade mode, or to battle against friends in split screen, reminiscent of 2005’s Battlefront II. Playing offline with friends is a rare and welcome treat in 2017. All of these modes offer some replay value, rewarding the player with credits for use online. Disappointingly, some of the heroes appear to be unbalanced in offline play. Playing with a friend, we both found that some heroes like Darth Maul and Kylo Ren had an advantage over characters.
Star Wars Battlefront II is a great addition to the Star Wars universe. With a reasonably compelling story, solid local multiplayer and good replay value. However, its baffling changes to the online mode prevent it from being a truly great sequel.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.